King Solomon said it best:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance… Ecc 3:1-4
As long as we remain travelers in this weary world, there will always be pain, loss, tears, injustice, and moments our brains can’t understand or reconcile to what seems logical, good, fair, or expected. Why do children get cancer, brothers kill brothers, families disintegrate, or people lose hope and succumb to addiction and death? Why do clouds of hopelessness and despair obscure our vision, interrupt our plans, darken our days, challenge our beliefs, and steal our joy? Why do loving, faithful dads, husbands, and plans for the future get swept away in the blink of an eye and the sudden flash of a rainy day? More important than the struggle with the “whys,” is who we know, what we do, and where do we go with the broken pieces and unanswered questions.
In her newly release book, I’m about To Get Up, Julie Hunt shares her story of loss, suffering, questions, recovery of hope, and restoration of peace. The full title of the book is I’m About to Get Up! (Persevering Through Loss & Grief) On some level, we have all experienced loss; but what does it look like to persevere through grief and loss? What exactly is grief?
1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
2. a cause of occasion of keen distress or sorrow.
Strong words: suffering, distress, loss, sorrow.
Julie provides a vivid word picture of how grief sometimes operates in our lives : “Grief puts the mind in such a fragile place. It feels like being on the edge of a great cliff,
mostly teetering to the point that one false move, or a sigh, or leaning in the wrong direction and… woosh! You’re gone, fallen, it’s over, never to return to sanity or reality again. Just gone.”*
Wow! Ever been there? Teetering on the edge of a breakdown… or maybe a breakthrough? A place where your body is weary, your brain in is on autopilot, and your own thoughts betray you? Your emotions may be fragile and tender..or hardened and numb?
Jesus wept. Jesus also cracked whips and turned over tables. He shared uplifting times with friends. He withdrew from the crowd and prayed in solitude. Meek and mild or mean and wild, there’s no denying that Jesus felt and expressed the same raw human emotions that we experience. He grieved deeply with and for people in their emptiness and loss: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt 9:36) He modeled a full range of emotional responses to harassment and hurt, and He extended mercy, grace, and compassion. Never did He shame people for their sin or hurt.
What is your pain point? Where does the enemy feed you a lie that you take on, nourish, and accept as truth? Be on guard, because every time you listen to the lie, entertain and feed on it, it turns on you and begins to feed on you. *
That’s a great question: What is your pain point? Identification and acknowledgment are the key as we prepare to wage any battle.
..Hurts we try to deny or hide away have a way of making themselves known. *
Personal pain can be so unpredictable that it can make the folks walking the path of grief with you uncomfortable. *
Using contemporary narrative blended with pages from her journal, Julie chronicles her own grief journey during the months that followed her husband’s unexpected death. Peaceful, faith-filled moments clashed with numbness, anger, confusion, loneliness, and questionable expectations in the days following the tragic news. While surrounded by loving, supportive friends and family, there were also obstacles, confrontations, and unknowns that made her question her ability to navigate the grief road she found herself traveling.
Ever tell yourself, I should be over this by now, others have had worse, or I shouldn’t be ______?
Shame can twist your thoughts and tie you up in knots very quickly. I could be a strong, godly woman, trusting and believing in God one moment. And then, minutes later, a thought , a word, a phone call, or a picture could draw me back into the doubt, despair, and hopelessness I knew so well. *
“I was miserable, hurting, and facing a choice: continue living in the pit with the lies and pain, or start climbing out.”*
While identifying and acknowledging the grief in our hard places are the first steps toward admitting that we need healing; choosing our steps and direction is often the first step out of those dark places.
“…I started paying better attention to those longings of my heart, those areas that I needed to get unstuck, so I could make efforts to move on.”*
“…I began to unravel the tightly woven garment I had constructed to keep my pain out and a shoddy form of survival in.”*
The book is rich with interesting personal narrative that pulls you into Julie’s inner circle and makes you feel like her friend and cheerleader. She honestly shares her struggles, questions, and doubts and emphasizes the importance of a strong support system and ever-seeking, ever-increasing faith in a God who knows, sees, and cares. She then finishes her story with practical advice and encouragement for anyone who finds themselves currently walking, or revisiting, the long rocky path of grief. Reflecting back on her own journey, she recognized and admitted her pain, found others to walk the road of suffering with her, and ultimately chose to walk out the path of healing by trusting and resting in the divine Healer for her comfort and restoration.
Each day took tremendous courage and resolute determination, believing that in every moment God is bigger than my loss, my pain, or my disappointment.
So while we may not always understand suffering, we are assured that we will have trouble in this life, but that we don’t have to walk the road of suffering alone.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God said: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Is 55:8-9
He also said: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Is 43:2-3
Yes, King Solomon was wise. There is a time for everything: a time to be born and to live, really live, before you die. A time to plant kindness, love, and hope. A time to uproot bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, and strife. A time to tear down and kill the toxic emotions, activities, and reactions that battle for your emotional and spiritual well-being as you build up your faith and friendships. A time to heal the hurts by taking time to weep and mourn to represent and experience the significance of loss; but in season, to laugh with new promises of hope and to dance with the joy of life and a new day.
Maybe another way of saying I’m About To Get Up! is this:
“Arise [from spiritual depression to a new life], shine [be radiant with the glory and brilliance of the Lord]; for your light has come, And the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1 Amp
*quotations from Julie Hunt, I’m About To Get Up!